Delicately sharing life-saving information with a good friend.

After learning about the sudden death of Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong, American hero

While spending last weekend in New Jersey, we heard the news of Neil Armstrong dying from complications from heart surgery. That completely unnecessary death got me to thinking.

What if he’d had the chance to meet his fellow Ohio resident, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic? I have no doubt that in their very first meeting that Dr. Esselstyn would have told him this simple truth about our nation’s #1 killer:

Heart disease is a toothless paper tiger that need never exist; and if it does exist, it need never progress.

With a track record of reversing heart disease in over 95% of his patients, he would have also told him exactly how to get rid of that heart disease—within months, not years or decades. But Mr. Armstrong wasn’t so lucky. In the lengthy New York Times article about his passing, there was only one mention of the cause of death (See link below):

His family said in a statement that the cause was “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.” He had undergone heart bypass surgery this month in Cincinnati, near where he lived. His recovery had been going well, according to those who spoke with him after the surgery, and his death came as a surprise to many close to him, including his fellow Apollo astronauts.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic has reversed heart disease in nearly 100% of his patients — with diet change only.

While the article provided no more information about his heart disease, maybe Mr. Armstrong had only recently learned about it and was simply following the very best conventional treatments on the planet—invasive heart surgery. It’s truly sad when America’s greatest heroes and even presidents are not ever told the simple truth that Dr. Esselstyn would have told them.

Bill Clinton was lucky. Although he too had complete access to the “best of the best” when it comes to conventional treatment, he chose to heed the advice of Esselstyn, Campbell and Ornish. Having read all of their books, he chose a heart disease-reversing, whole foods, plant-based diet and will likely be around for many more years.

With this on my mind, I wrote a letter from the train to my dear friend, in whose home I had been a house-guest over the weekend. An excerpt from that letter:

As one of my very best friends, I am curious why you’re not taking the message in our book seriously. While thinking about you this morning and remembering that Neil Armstrong died of complications from heart surgery while I was at your home, I decided to write you a note from the train.

You say that you’re feeling healthy all the time—and that’s great. But often the first symptom of heart disease is a heart attack, even if your cholesterol numbers are fairly good. Meanwhile, there are some people who’d rather die of heart disease than give up meat, seafood, dairy and eggs.

Maybe you’re one of those people. If so, that’s fine and I won’t hassle you about it. But if you died next week, I’d feel guilty that I hadn’t shared more with you.

Seabright Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club—where I ruptured my Achilles tendon two years ago and the scene of the Prentice Cup with Gala Dinner Dance that we attended this past weekend.

I went on to explain that our book is all about the “big picture” of what we eat and how those choices impact our health, our environment and the long-term sustainability of the human race. After people learn about the “big picture,” different folks make dietary changes for different reasons.

Lately Dr. Campbell told me that he now believes that more people will move toward plant-based eating for environmental reasons than for health. I think he may be right. My letter continued:

Our book covers all of the “facts about food” that people should at least consider before deciding how they might wish to feed themselves and their family. While far less than half of my readers may adopt a full-blown 4Leaf diet like mine; a large majority will at least make a few changes—after reading the book. For example; our friend Tim basically just cut out dairy and lost about 25 pounds (from 157 to 132). He “gets it” and says everything in the book makes complete sense to him.

The Bottom Line. The problem is that the vast majority of the people in the western world are completely ignorant of the consequences of what we eat. They choose their food based on three criteria only: pleasure, cost and convenience (and a 4th—habit). So when should you help your good friends and family better understand the “big picture” about our food choices.

Delicately sharing unsolicited information with a friend is something that we all face from time to time. And every situation may warrant a different approach. It all depends on the relationship. For example, there are members of my own family who have no interest in hearing this information—so I will honor their wishes. Like Dr. Campbell says, I’m just trying to do the right thing and tell the truth—so I can sleep well at night.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to Delicately sharing life-saving information with a good friend.

  1. Leo S. says:

    The astronaut James Irwin also had bypass surgery and two heart attacks and died at 61. His blood cholesterol was 300 while traveling in the space capsule. He and president Clinton supposedly had the “best doctors” our country could supply and still developed heart conditions. Even though Clinton was advised by Dr. Ornish he apparently did not take advantage of the research that Ornish and Esselstyn and others might have offered him. It wasn’t until after the bypass, angioplasty and finally a stent began to become clogged that he started to change what he ate. Even Dr. McDougall sent him a letter to try to get him to change his diet.

    Venus Williams developed blood clots even though she was young and athletic and had to refrain from playing tennis for a period of time. She has resorted to a plant-based diet to overcome an autoimmune disorder (Sjogren’s Disease) which may be caused by dairy products. Being African-American she may very well be lactose intolerant, as are Asians, but many are not aware of that problem and continue to consume dairy and/or take medication to treat “allergies” without removing the cause.

    We continue to consume items which clog the arteries. Nathan Pritikin pointed out that consumption of dairy products could show deceptively low cholesterol readings while still allowing buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries.

    • Leo S. says:

      Here is a news release about Stallone’s son. Many young people are developing clogged arteries. These conditions are sometimes considered “normal” and nothing is done to try and reverse the blockage because many physicians and individuals are not aware that these conditions are reversable by lifestyle changes. Many doctors still tell their patients that “food has nothing to do with your condition.”
      LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sylvester Stallone’s son Sage died at age 36 from natural causes due to a heart condition, coroner’s officials said Thursday.

      Sage Stallone’s death on July 13 was attributed to a condition that causes blockage of the arteries, and no other factors were involved. It has been classified a natural death.

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